How do you ensure that you’re getting as many relevant visitors as you can to your site from the right search engines?

The answer is search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO can be confusing if you’re new to it, especially if you don’t have any help.

The easiest, most effective way to optimize your website is to create a simple checklist that you can refer to time and time again.

To help you out, I’ve created a simple checklist of five important on-page SEO items you need to make sure to address on every page of your website.

For my examples below, I’ll be highlighting a great piece of search-optimized website content, an article about “How to Create a Successful Autoresponder Series” by Ryan Pinkham of Constant Contact.

You’ll notice that Ryan has done a superb job of adding the focus keyword — Autoresponder — which is a key search term for Constant Contact customers and prospects.

Let’s take a look at five SEO factor you need to know:

1. Page Titles

The first item on your optimization checklist should be the page title.

A page title, or title tag, is the main text that describes a web page. It’s an extremely important on-page SEO element because it’s often the first impression a visitor gets of the page.

It’s also one of the easiest SEO element to edit and it appears in three key places.

  • Browser: The title tag shows up in both the top of a browser’s window as well as in tabs. Here’s an example. I’ve hovered over the tab with my cursor to make the full text appear.
    SEO Post 1
  • Search Engine Results Page: Title tags also show up in the search engine results as the links that your potential visitors will click after conducting a search. Here’s the same Constant Contact article title in the search engine results page (SERP).
    SEO Post 2
  • External Websites: External websites will often use the title of a web page within the text, and link it to that page. Here I have a screenshot of a Constant Contact article in my Feedly account, which is a news reader I use to stay up-to-date with my favorite blogs.
    SEO Post 3

Tips for page title optimization:

  • Capitalize the appropriate words
  • Keep them less than 70 characters
  • Make it match the page’s content
  • Use a tool like Yoast to make page title optimization easy

2. Meta Descriptions

Let’s say that Google is a potential sales prospect and your web page is a salesperson. If that’s the case, then a meta description can be thought of as an elevator pitch for prospective customers. It should help them quickly understand what a page is about, and why the information on that page will benefit them.

You should write a unique, one to two sentence meta description for every page on your website. This allows you as a web page author to give your pages a more meaningful description. This comes in handy if the search engines were unable to automatically create their own descriptions based on the page content.

Make sure you include the focus keyword and a call to action when applicable. Here’s a look at the meta description from Ryan’s article:

SEO Post 4

Tips for meta description optimization:

  • Write them in sentence format
  • Keep them less than 150 characters
  • Make it match the body content
  • Write persuasively and concisely

3. H1 Headings

When you first look at any web page, most of the time the very first text you read is the heading, like in a newspaper article.

These headings are extremely important when it comes to getting your visitors’ attention and persuading them to read the rest of your article or page. If you don’t grab them with a strong heading, chances are they will leave your site immediately.

When used in conjunction with your page title and meta description, headings also help improve search engine ranking for specific focus keywords and phrases.

Here’s a look at the H1 heading from Ryan’s article:
SEO Post 5

Tips for H1 heading optimization:

  • Limit one per page and always lead with it
  • Write them in sentence format
  • Make them catchy and interesting to the reader (how-to’s and lists are really engaging)
  • Avoid headings that aren’t relevant to the page’s main focus and content

4. Body Copy

Of course, all the items mentioned so far are important for on-page SEO, but for better results, use your focus keyword at least three to four times in the body copy too.

Don’t just stuff the focus keyword in as many times as you can. Let it flow naturally, as if in a conversation. Make sure that your actual page text is interesting, valuable, and relevant to your audience. Doing items one through three above doesn’t matter if your content is dry, dull, boring, or overly promotional.

Ryan mentioned Autoresponder seven times in his article and the phrase Autoresponder series three times. He used these words in both the headings and the paragraph text. He also tagged the post with the keyword so visitors can find it while conducting an on-site search within the Constant Contact blog.

5. URL

It’s always a good idea to make sure the URL of your page contains the relevant focus keyword for SEO. The search engines will bold the relevant focus keyword in the URL when it matches the query:

SEO Post 6

Here’s Ryan’s full post URL:

As you can see, it’s a very simple URL that contains the focus keyword. It’s unique. It’s structured nicely based on where the article is located within the blog. There’s not a lot of extra technical stuff that doesn’t make sense to a human reader.

Here’s a video from Google Search expert Matt Cutts on the subject of URL optimization:

Can’t see the video? View it here.

Honorable Mentions

The five items I mentioned in this article are the perfect on-page SEO items to add to your checklist as a small business owner, because they’re going to give you the best return for your time.

There are many other on-page and off-page factors that will contribute to your overall search engine optimization and audience building success.

Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind:

  • How many relevant websites are linking back to your site? If no one is linking to you, Google doesn’t deem you as an authority on the subject matter.
  • How fresh is your content? Are you adding it frequently? Growing websites are rewarded more than static websites.
  • Does your content contain useful, valuable information? Content that is too thin on substance will not do you any good.
  • How fast do your pages load? If your pages take more than 10 seconds to load, that tends to annoy visitors, making them likely to leave shortly after arriving.
  • Do you have any social signals pointing to your content? If you have industry professionals who are promoting your content with links via social media, this will benefit your SEO.
  • How large is your website? Well-established, reputable, large sites often have the most authority. 400 pages is a key inflection point that you can aim for.

If you want to make sure you’re checking all these items off your SEO list, growing your audience with relevant links, and converting more website visitors into new customers for your business, try BoostSuite for free. BoostSuite is the complete audience-building solution for small businesses like yours.

Do you use SEO to better reach your target audience? Tell us in the comments below!

About the Author: 

Ryan Kettler is Director of Communications for BoostSuite, the collaborative marketing tool for small businesses.

Ryan is an Internet marketing zealot, sports fanatic, devoted runner, avid golfer, beer connoisseur, and live music enthusiast. When he’s not helping BoostSuite customers he can be found running 5ks, sampling IPAs, and cheering on his North Carolina State Wolfpack.

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